By Matt de Simone
During the spring of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced many small businesses to change their models. Botetourt County businesses faced many of the same issues as many others nationwide. Ken McFadyen, the director of Botetourt County’s Economic Development, recently joined Amanda Forrester, the regional director for the Roanoke Regional Small Business Development Center, for a virtual “Community on Call” discussion about the county’s COVID-19 Small Business Impact Grant Program.
The program focuses on funding small businesses that were impacted by the pandemic. Applicants can apply for up to $5,000 worth of assistance with professional service costs. The businesses must be located in Botetourt County to be eligible and must have documentation proving they opened before February 29, 2020.
As previously reported, to receive a grant, a business must provide a dollar amount of COVID-19-related losses as of the date of the application. They must also certify the claimed loss was based upon COVID-19, and that the goods/services of the grant program will assist the business to continue as a viable entity and will continue servicing the citizens of Botetourt County.
“From my perspective, at the Small Businesses Development Center, we just want to encourage all Botetourt businesses to apply,” Forrester stated. “Worst case scenario: you didn’t feel an impact. Obviously, we don’t want people to finagle the system, but everyone should be encouraged to apply.”
Botetourt’s Economic Development worked to make the application easy to access and complete. “We really have tried to make the application as user-friendly as possible,” McFadyen explained. “Government does involve bureaucracy from time to time. We tried to make this application as unbureaucratic as possible while at the same time maintaining the accountability that we have to the U.S. Treasury Department and the Commonwealth of Virginia for having received these carriage relief dollars.”
The main point of the grant is to give small businesses a chance to show resiliency seeking new services for better adjustments during the pandemic. McFadyen provided some examples of why Botetourt’s small businesses should apply, such as paying for legal services, accounting, and marketing and advertising provisions.
Once applied, the economic development staff reviews the applications to confirm the business is located in Botetourt and has a good standing with the local professional entities such as the Commissioner of Revenue’s office and the local county treasurer.
Both McFadyen and Forrester reiterated that those eligible must follow specific guidelines related to the business’s start-up date. “It is very important that a business was in operation by February 29, 2020, and continued operations through March 12,” McFadyen stated. “We’re really not in a position to say whether or not it was a COVID impact if a business started in April and then didn’t have the response they hoped for their business.”
Over the past three weeks, since Botetourt County’s Economic Development announced the grant opportunity, 60 small businesses applied. In the video, McFadyen explains the application process and when businesses will hear back from his office. “Those who have already applied and are eligible to receive the grant should be underway and running by this calendar month at the end of July,” McFadyen said.
All applications are due by September 30. For more information on the program, visit the Botetourt County government website at: https://web.botetourtva.gov/covid19/2020/07/08/covid-19-small-business-grant-application/
To watch the “Community on Call” interview with Forrester and McFadyen in its entirety, please visit the “Uploads” section of the Roanoke Regional Small Business Development Center’s (SBDC) YouTube page.